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Hatzistavrou, Antony



Marguerite Deslauriers

Pierre Destrée


In the fifth book of the Politics Aristotle discusses the issue of change in political constitutions. He focuses primarily (though not exclusively) on constitutional changes which are brought about by faction (stasis). In this chapter I examine Aristotle's account of faction. I support two main theses: Aristotle distinguishes different types of faction based on the diverse motives of agents of faction. Those who start faction may be motivated by a wide variety of considerations ranging from ideological concerns to personal vengeance. Aristotle studies the phenomenon of faction from two related but distinct perspectives. On the one hand, he tries to explain the phenomenon of faction by reference to factors which influence the psychology of those who start faction. On the other, he offers a sociological account of the origins of faction in terms of ideological conflict and the injustice of the constitution. The chapter is divided into three sections. In the first section I try to substantiate the first thesis. In particular I argue that Aristotle distinguishes two different types of faction: politically motivated faction and faction due to personal rivalry. I draw a further distinction within the first type of faction. On the one hand, those who desire greater political power may believe that their current constitution deprives them of their fair share of political power. I call this subtype of politically motivated faction “injustice-induced faction.” On the other, the desire for greater political power may be triggered by an unjust desire to have more. I call the second subtype of politically motivated faction “greed-induced faction.” These diversely motivated factions have common political consequences. The generated political dissent threatens the existence of the constitution.


Hatzistavrou, A. (2011). Faction. In M. Deslauriers, & P. Destrée (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Aristotle's politics (275-300). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Online Publication Date Dec 18, 2013
Publication Date Jan 1, 2011
Deposit Date Dec 19, 2014
Publicly Available Date Dec 19, 2014
Journal The Cambridge companion to Aristotle's politics
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 275-300
Series Title Cambridge Companions to Philosophy
Book Title The Cambridge companion to Aristotle's politics
Chapter Number 11
ISBN 9781107004689; 9780521181112
Keywords REF 2014 submission
Public URL


ARISTOTLE ON FACTION-Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Politics.docx (72 Kb)

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